3 Ways To Be More Resilient, From This Happiness Expert
As a happiness expert and advocate for positivity and simple pleasures, Neil Pasricha sure knows a thing or two about how to live a happy life. He's written internationally bestselling books, hosted podcasts, and led TED talks on the topic, and he strongly believes that we should live our lives with intention, failure, and gratitude.
It's exactly what we talked about on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, as Pasricha sits down with me to discuss how to increase our resilience, foster difficult conversations with people, and teach our children to have thick skin in today's society.
Pasricha believes resilience is like a muscle—we have to target it and actively build on it for it to grow. That said, he offers tips on how we can grow our resilience muscle and ultimately live happier, more stress-free lives.
Here are three ways we can increase our resilience—and why failure is actually a good thing:
1. Find a weird hobby and learn something new.
Although it may sound completely unrelated, Pasricha believes that participating in unconventional, "weird" side hobbies is the key to increasing resilience. Learning something new increases your learning rate, which Pasricha says is a giant indicator of resilience.
"Having totally unrelated side hobbies and weird asides actually increases the incongruence in your thinking, which increases your learning rate for your main job too," Pasricha says.
So not only can having new hobbies expand your mental power, but it can also offer you new ideas and insights into your main project or job. Think of it from a diversity standpoint: We know that having diverse ideas within a group is beneficial for creating the most successful project, so having a diverse set of experiences within your brain can be beneficial for your work as well.
Maybe it's time to take up ukulele lessons.
2. Don't be afraid to fail.
When it comes to learning new things, Pasricha advises that failure is crucial for increasing resilience. It's these mini failures that we experience when we try new activities that prepare us for any bigger, life-altering failures that may come our way.
Pasricha compares these little failures to bicep curls (he knows his mbg audience well). When we do bicep curls, our muscles actually tear slightly. It's the process of rebuilding the muscles that causes them to get bigger and stronger—a process known as autophagy.
As with bicep curls, our lives should have these little tears and rips that make us stronger. Pasricha says, "Through these little rips, you'll be more equipped to handle the bigger things that happen to you."
If you don't experience any small failures or pain in life, you won't have the resilience you need to navigate any bigger pains. Think of it as being pushed to the ground, just so you'll learn how to stand back up.
3. In fact, see your failures as a positive steppingstone.
"Every single failure you do go through is a step toward a future you just can't see yet," Pasricha says. "Learn how to see it from the perspective of 'This is going to go somewhere positive.'"
He assures me that the failures we do go through, even if they're relatively huge, are in service of a larger end goal that we just aren't aware of. Whether you take this advice in a spiritual way or not, if you view your failures as steppingstones toward a positive end goal, you'll garner the resilience you need to keep moving.
He even tells me that every achievement needs to have these failures, as it's the pain that makes the goal worthwhile.
"Every single goal, achievement, or desire that anybody has comes with a series of pain and punishments along the way," Pasricha states. "See it as a step."
While it's difficult to actually measure happiness, increasing our resilience to life's unexpected twists and turns is one way to ensure a life of fulfillment and joy. Whether you take up those ukulele lessons, participate in a new sports league, or even just switch up the rotating documentaries in your Netflix queue, don't be afraid to learn something totally new—and fail at it.
That said, don't take your new hobbies (and life, for that matter) too seriously. Take it from Pasricha: "Life is tiny, fragile, and beautiful," he says. "All we need are a few directional arrows to get us back on the path when we fall off course."
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